Short-Handed Miners Fall in Poor Shooting Effort to UC Riverside
1-of-24 from 3-point range.
That is the UTEP statistic that headlines a frustrating home matchup against UC Riverside, in which the Miners fell 52-40 on Monday night. The squad was without senior All Conference shooting guard Souley Boum and Christian Agnew, who are both out due to COVID-19 protocols.
The short-handed Miners were able to force 17 Highlander turnovers on defensively, but weren't able to get any shots to fall in order to try and hang in the game. Point guard Jamal Bieniemy led the squad with 11 points as the only player in double figures, while Keonte Kennedy and Tydus Verhoeven put up six points each.
“First of all I’m proud of our guys defensively,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “I don’t think effort was the problem tonight. We guarded a really good basketball team. When you hold a team to 52 points, especially at home, you’ve got to find a way to win the game. We just have to figure out a way to get the ball in the basket.”
UTEP started off the game with some spark to their play, leading for 13:52 in the first half. They were down 5-2 early before the Miners reeled off an 11-0 run over a five minute stretch. UCR clawed back before half and took the 23-19 lead at the break.
In the second half, the Highlanders started to break away and led 37-29 in the first 10 minutes. UTEP failed to score for seven minutes in the second half until Bieniemy hit the team's lone 3-pointer of the contest at the 7:22 mark. That ignited a Miner comeback, as they cut the UCR lead to just three points, 39-36. The Highlanders were able to adjust with a zone defense and they went on a 10-0 run offensively to distance themselves, 46-36. UCR never looked back and took the 52-40 win while holding the Miners to just four points over the last five minutes.
The Miners shot an abysmal 26.3% from the floor and they were just 4% from 3-point range. UC Riverside shot 43% from the floor and won the rebounding margin, 39-35.
Up next: UTEP (3-2) will host Florida A&M on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. tipoff. Boum and Agnew will miss the contest due to COVID-19 protocols. NCAA mandates that a player is quarantined for seven days, but it always falls on getting back a negative test in order to return to the squad.
“I believe in our guys and our team,” Golding said. “We’ve got to get some work on some shots. When you’re open, you’ve got to have confidence that it will go in. Hopefully that will happen Wednesday night (vs. FAMU).”